News from ICLMG

Coalition Objects to Renewed Calls for Weaker Encryption Following ‘Five Eyes’ Ottawa Meeting

o-ENCRYPTION-facebookBy CIPPIC – A letter was sent today on behalf of coalition comprised of 83 leading organizations, including the ICLMG, and experts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States to their respective governments in reaction to renewed state calls for measures that would effectively weaken encryption. The letter responds to a ministerial meeting of the five governments’ respective security officials hosted in Ottawa earlier this week, where possibilities for facilitating increased state access to encrypted data were discussed.

The ministerial occurred under the auspices of the ‘Five Eyes’ – a surveillance partnership between intelligence agencies within the five countries, including Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE). It generated a joint Communique, which presented encryption as a serious barrier to public safety efforts and an impediment to state agencies wishing to access the content of some communications for investigative reasons.

The coalition letter, which was organized by Access Now, CIPPIC, and researchers from Citizen Lab, called on the Five Eye governments to “respect the right to use and develop strong encryption” while urging broader public participation in future discussions such as the one that occurred earlier this week. Strong and uncompromised encryption has never been more important, as it protects our most sensitive data, our increasingly critical online interactions, even the integrity of our elections.

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This Summer: Grill your MP on National Security

iclmgSMALLBBQ season is slowly winding down but you can still contact your MP to let them know that the protection of civil liberties doesn’t take time off in the summer!

Below are 7 short questions and asks you can make of your Member of Parliament before Parliament comes back at the end of September. Here’s the PDF version.

Find out who is your MP, what is their email address, constituency office address or phone number to send them the questions or talk to them on the phone or in person:

If you want, send us their responses at so we can follow up with them and hold them up to what they’ve said.

Please share widely via email, on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Bill C-51 & Bill C-59

The issue: Bill C-51 created the Anti-Terror Act, 2015. It was passed with little debate, no evidence showing it was needed, and no amendments. The law serves to weaken our security by eroding our right to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association. The Liberals have introduced Bill C-59 which they say will fix the most egregious issues. However, minor changes and new review mechanisms (albeit welcome) do not fix bad laws. We need the government to take firm action on human rights and civil liberties: C-51 must be repealed.

Question for your Member of Parliament: Bill C-59 makes minor changes to some parts of C-51 and leaves most of it untouched. What actions will you take to make sure that C-51 is repealed and that our rights aren’t diminished by national security laws?

Want more info?
Read our concerns on C-51:
Read our press release on C-59:


The issue: The Ministerial Directives on Torture – or torture memos – allow the Canadian government to share intelligence with, and receive intelligence from, countries that engage in torture. These exceptions allow countries that practice torture to continue their illegal and unjust actions, knowing that they won’t be cut off from the information-sharing community. In January 2016 the government said they would review the directives. It’s now June 2017 and they just announced they will be consulting on how to change the memos. We don’t need more consultation – we need action! Furthermore, the government is still contemplating sending Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee, back to Algeria where he risks being jailed and tortured. The Liberal government has said they are absolutely against torture; it is time to show it!

Question for your MPInformation potentially derived from torture should never be used, and people should never be sent to a country where they face risks of torture. Will you commit to explicitly banning the use of information gathered under torture, or the sharing of information with governments that engage in torture? Will you refuse that any individuals, including Mohamed Harkat, be sent to countries where they face torture?

Want more info?
Read this explainer by the BCCLA:
See the Justice for Harkat website:

Afghan Detainees

The issue: There are very serious concerns that the Government of Canada knew — or had been warned — that prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities by Canadians were tortured or faced the likelihood of abuse. If the government had been aware, and did nothing to stop it, then it could be considered a war crime. Federal Liberals who argued for a public inquiry, while in opposition, into the treatment of prisoners during the Afghan war, have now said they will not conduct such an investigation. This decision was penned by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who served three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Forces, putting him in a conflict of interest. The Ethics Commissioner found no conflict of interest but based her conclusion only on Sajjan’s account of his involvement in Afghanistan, which was different than what he told a military historian. This issue is grave enough, and murky enough, that we believe a public inquiry is necessary.

Question for your MP: For Liberal MPs: Why has the governement flip-flopped on this issue and decided against a public inquiry? For all MPs: What actions will you take to ensure that we learn the truth on Canada’s involvement in the torture of Afghan detainees?

Want more info?

No fly list

The issue: Canada’s no fly list has been plagued with problems: Innocent people – including dozens of kids – have ended up as “false positives” and seen their travel delayed. People are not told if they are on the list, meaning you would only know if you are listed if you are stopped at an airport, and may never even know. The current system to appeal being a false positive or being placed on the list is ineffective and time consuming. More importantly, the criminal code is sufficient to stop people suspected of a crime from boarding a plane. A secret administrative list you cannot challenge in court is a threat to civil liberties. The no-fly list should be abolished.

Question for your MP: Bill C-59 promises changes to the no fly list, but they don’t go far enough. What action are you taking to ensure there’s a redress system for false positives and people who want to challenge being on the no-fly list? What is your position on abolishing the no-fly list?

Want more info?
See this explainer by the BCCLA:


The issue: The government has dedicated millions of dollars to a Office for Counter-Radicalization. They have publicly committed to addressing all forms of violent extremism. However, experts state that the causes of “radicalization” and “extremism” are still little understood. And in other countries, such offices have mostly ended up targeting Muslim and Arab communities. We do need to address violence in society, but shouldn’t the focus be on social causes of violence and tension – like poverty, lack of social services, underfunded education systems, racism, homophobia, sexism – and not aimed at marginalized groups?

Question for your MP: What are you doing to ensure that the government’s “deradicalization” efforts don’t target Muslim and Arab communities? What are you doing to ensure that dissenting ideas and groups that are not violent but challenge the government’s decisions are not caught in this? What are you and your party doing to address the social causes of the most common forms of violence, like sexual assault, domestic abuse and hate crimes?

Want more info?

Oversight, Review and Accountability

The issue: The government has created a committee of parliamentarians to review national security (C-22), and introduced legislation to create an umbrella review agency for all national security activities (C-59). But the committee of parliamentarians faces significant limitations on what information they can access and what issues they can investigate. And the proposed umbrella review agency’s recommendations are not binding at this time. We need stronger, independent and more effective review and oversight.

Question for your MP: What is your party doing to ensure the efficiency of national security oversight and review bodies? Will you allow the committee of parliamentarians full access to the information they need? And will you let it and the new National Security Review Agency make binding decisions?

Want more info?
Read our short analysis of C-22:
Read our longer brief to the Senate on C-22:

Hassan Diab

The issue: Canadian citizen and professor Hassan Diab was extradited to France in 2014 to be investigated for the bombing of a synagogue in Paris in 1980. He was extradited on incredibly flimsy evidence that even the extradition judge in Canada expressed concern over. Since then, multiple pieces of evidence have been shown to be faulty, and a French investigative judge found overwhelming evidence that Hassan was in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. Judges have ordered his release 6 times, but each time it was blocked by the prosecution. He has now been held without charge in pre-trial detention for over 2 ½ years in France, away from his partner Rania and their two children. The Canadian government must speak out for Hassan and demand his release and return home.

Question for your MP: Are you aware that Canadian Hassan Diab has been in jail for over 30 months without charge in Paris? Will you and your party ask the Prime Minister to speak out for the release of Hassan?

Want more info?
See the Justice for Hassan Diab website:
Read Amnesty International Canada’s press release:

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.

On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity! 

Bill C-59: Despite improvements, Canadian government misses opportunity for bold action on civil liberties and national security

miss the boatOttawa – The provisions of Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, are a welcome break with the past, but fail to take the opportunity to move Canada in a bold new direction that would place civil liberties and human rights at the heart of the country’s security laws.

“Canadians have been adamant that human rights, civil liberties, accountability and transparency should be front and centre when we discuss our security,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). “This was made clear in the government’s report on its own national security consultations, published in May. The creation of a new national security review agency is an incredibly welcome start. However, the government missed the mark on doing away once and for all with Bill C-51.”

The ICLMG has consistently called for the repeal of Bill C-51, which introduced multiple measures that eroded the Canadians’ right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and did little to make the country a safer place.

However, the proposed creation of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, as well as an Intelligence Commissioner, could go a long way to adding transparency and accountability to agencies that – despite the efforts of current review bodies – have long operated in obscurity and without adequate accountability. “We believe this is a strong step toward protecting Canadians’ rights from over-reach of national security organizations, and will work to ensure that they are as strong as possible, including that both bodies receive the resources needed, and that they can make binding recommendations,” added McSorley.

Other beneficial aspects to the bill include the elimination of investigative hearings, a higher threshold for preventative arrests and issuing peace bonds, and replacing the controversial criminal violation of “promotion” of terrorism offences with the more robust “counselling” to commit a terrorism offence.

However, the government may have taken action to create stronger frameworks around both the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA) and the Safe Air Travel Act (the no fly list), but the same concerns persist as when they were introduced with C-51. “The government has yet to prove the necessity or value of either intrusive law, and we continue to call for their repeal,” said McSorley. The ICLMG is also concerned that Bill C-59 appears to create a legal framework for CSIS to retain data on Canadians that was previously out of bounds, again without a reasonable explanation or justification for the expansion of these powers, as well as allows CSIS to maintain controversial disruption powers.

Finally the bill also remains silent on two concerning aspects of Canada’s national security laws: security certificates – which the ICLMG has called to be abolished – and the ministerial directives on torture. On the latter, Minister Goodale has repeated for more than a year that the directives – which allow Canada to use information that may have been obtained under torture as well as share information with governments that commit torture – are under review… only to now announce that they will be the subject of greater consultation. “Torture is torture, and is never acceptable,” said McSorley. “The government must end its foot-dragging and change the directives now.”

The ICLMG will continue to study the 150-page bill and will be issuing a more in-depth analysis over the coming weeks.


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